02 January 2010


Jägermeister is a thick, dark German liqueur (35%) produced from a blend of fifty-six herbs, fruits and spices. It is best served ice cold, and is thus commonly kept in the freezer, where it becomes slightly thicker and infinitely more pleasurable to consume. Its taste is similar to the Hungarian liquor Zwack Unicum, or its German contemporary Schierker Feuerstein; the herbal quality really shines through.

Jägermeister means hunt master, a title reflected in the Jägermeister logo: a stag, replete with impressive antlers between which floats a cross. So the story goes, a seventh century lad called Hubertus was moved by such a vision to change his life, joining a monastery and, ultimately, becoming the patron saint of hunters. Whether it's true or not, the label is distinctive and undeniably appropriate.

The company that produces Jägermeister is keen to promote its consumption, as you'd expect. Special tap machines serve the liqueur at freezing cold temperatures, and the website www.jager.com features a host of suggestions and potential purchases. Snowboards, watches,hats and glasses: Jägermeister are going for a younger market here. It's working, too - Jägermeister, worthy of such claims or not, is slowly acquiring a reputation similar to that of absinthe. It is suggested for use in a range of cocktails, too, though its bitter taste does not work well in most cases. The more popular Jägermeister cocktails are those which provide an opportunity to display some sort of drinking prowess. The provocatively-named 'Screaming Nazi' is one such alcoholic trial.

And with this comes the danger: that Jägermeister will come to be regarded as a fad liquor, taking its place alongside Aftershock and Goldschlager as a dare-you-to-down-it shot for the end of the evening. This would be a shame: the best way to drink Jägermeister is to slowly sip its icy depths; the subtle blends of flavours deserve more than a quick tip down the back of the neck. Certainly, claims as to its potency are over-rated; its alcohol percentage is a significant five percent below most vodkas. Drink enough, or drink it fast enough, and it's going to give you a serious hangover, this is true, but exactly the same is true of enough Jack Daniel's or Grey Goose. But however you choose to drink it, the fact remains that Jägermeister's bitter, medicinal taste and alcoholic strength are an acquired taste which, once firmly ingrained, will not be regretted. Unless you indulge a little too much, of course...

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